In recent years, the logistics industry in Lagos, Nigeria, has evolved rapidly. This is not to say that Lagos is the only place where this transformation has occurred, but it is most visible in the city. Away from the trucks and vans that previously dominated the logistics space, motorcycles currently reign supreme as delivery vehicles, and they are so common in the city that all you need to do is turn your neck to find them.
Transportation activities contribute approximately 17 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To combat climate change and make our planet habitable in the near future, there must be a radical shift away from fossil-fuelled modes of freight transport (cars, motorcycles, etcetera) to a more sustainable alternative.
From Gorillas in Germany to Babboe in France, cycle logistics is emerging as a promising alternative in urban freight transport, globally. Now, Nigeria has such a sustainable alternative – Errand 360, founded by Adetola Adele, David Ayodeji, and Akosile Kolade in Nigeria.
The community delivery hub, which officially launched this year, is tailored to serve businesses with a demand for quick, short errands and delivery services. It helps users with food deliveries, pharmaceutical product delivery, grocery purchase and delivery, document dispatch within the city, etc.
In this interview with Ventures Africa, David Ayodeji talks about what it’s like being Nigeria’s first eco-friendly last-mile logistics company.
What influenced you to start Errand 360?
It wasn’t Errand 360 initially, it was similar to traditional e-commerce, but we noticed gaps between ordering goods and having them delivered in time. The gaps are reflected in the delivery price, the time-lapse, and the environmental issue. We saw these things and decided to fill the gaps rather than add to the problem.
This prompted us to research how best to use bicycles in Nigeria. We looked at places in Paris, Germany, and a couple of other European countries where bicycles are alternatives for regular cars. Germany uses bicycles and electric bicycles for delivery. Since there was a market globally, we felt we could replicate it here.
The important factors for us were affordability, time management, and the environment. Of course, people would have moved products with bicycles at some point, but taking it to the commercial level where many people adopt it as a replacement in logistics has not been done. This prompted us to create a sustainable, eco-friendly business with low operating costs that many people can use.
Given the limitation of a wider reach, how efficient is Errand 360?
That has been the question many people ask when we tell them to choose Errand 360 as their official logistics partner. In the business of e-commerce, you will find that people often focus on community-based deliveries. For example, you are less likely to order food from Ikeja when you live in Surulere. That was one of the things we considered. So what we do is community-based delivery. We have stations across Lagos. We are present in every location on the Island – Lekki, Ajah, VI, Ikoyi Chevron. We have stations at Surulere and Yaba and are moving to some other spots on the mainland in a few weeks.
For a business to use our platform, it must be a registered partner. Most of our partners are businesses, which I call vendors. We run a business-to-business model where if you own a store, a shop, restaurant and you have orders constantly, you can sign up with us, and we will deploy our riders to your vicinity.
We also have some people we call High Demand (HD) vendors. We have some dedicated deployment for those kinds of businesses. Businesses in this category have a heavy flow of customers and orders. It has helped us achieve a lot of milestones. When we started, we did our first 1000 orders in 30 days, and it stirred several questions when I mentioned it online. The goal is to process about 10,000 orders daily. When we reach that goal, we will provide several eco-friendly infrastructures. We don’t plan to use fossil fuel at any point in the business. Everything we would use, be it a car, boat, bus, or bike, would be electric.
What challenges do you face as the pioneer bicycle logistics company in Nigeria?
Initially, getting vendors was a challenge because the model was new to them. When we started, we went to about 100 vendors, and we got the same expression of shock from them. They asked how we could deliver with bicycles. Bicycles that were supposed to be for leisure activities. We explained the model, showed them the backpack and branded bike. We had to show them that we were serious and we were here to stay. We won them over one vendor at a time.
The next was getting riders. We needed to create a proper package that would pique the interest of riders and persuade them to stay. We addressed all of the issues that made it difficult for logistics companies to retain riders. We increased their basic salary, performance bonuses, health insurance, and several other benefits. We have riders that have stayed with us for months. Our requirements are flexible; you do not need a college diploma. As long as you can speak English, use a phone, follow instructions, and arrive at the designated location on time, you can work with us.
The government isn’t currently a challenge, but we anticipated it before it became one, visited them and discussed the business. There are currently no regulations governing the space, but we will be informed once there are. We’ve also got local government licensing, and we’ve had no problems so far.
The roads in Lagos are not in great condition. There are no dedicated bike lanes. But we can manoeuvre our way. Funny enough, I don’t think traffic affects bicycles.
In what cities are you operational, and what are your plans for expansion?
Next February, we should be in six different cities. For us, it is about the economic power of a city. We are not doing this on a state-wide level. We can be in two cities in one state. We look at cities that already have some form of mobility solutions so we can take our logistics solutions there. We are looking at expanding to cities like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Osun, Ijebu, Abeokuta, etc. We will expand into some of Africa’s major cities once we have expanded into some of Nigeria’s major cities.
How do riders apply to work for the company?
Interested riders can go to the website and access a registration form there. After submission, our team will get across to them, conduct an interview and an onboarding process because there are some basic things we need to provide for KYC. You bring your documentation, and after onboarding, you get deployed to a particular location where you can start working almost immediately. In the last 30 days, our operations team has increased to about 300 riders. We are looking to have a database of 5000 riders in the next three months because we are looking at some major deployment next year.
What is the prospect for the last-mile delivery market in Nigeria?
Last-mile delivery is as big as the regular long-distance logistics space. For every person that sends a package over 40 to 50 kilometres, there are probably five to six persons waiting to get a package between 0 to 10 kilometres. You have more businesses in the food sector than the regular long-distance packages. Most of their customers want their food delivered to them in a few minutes. So the volume in last-mile delivery is larger. The space looks like it is not big enough because it is untapped. However, if businesses tap into it in the same way we are, you will see the volume and value of the space.
I was speaking with some of our partners this week and they said, of the 100 per cent order they get, they barely fulfil 50 per cent due to a lack of infrastructure to move that package from the vendor to the customers. We are trying to go into that space and make up for that 50 per cent they can’t deliver.
What should we be expecting soon with Errand360?
Next year, we are going to cover Nigeria. We should be in about 30 cities next year, and we are looking at introducing about a thousand infrastructure into the market. We will also be venturing into at least two African countries. We hope to get 10,000 orders daily, and we will strive to attain that goal by the second quarter of next year.
Interview by Adekunle Agbetiloye